The Evil Bit

I see that Gartner has suggested that Cisco should take over control of the internet. Should this attack on the end to end principle make progress I hope they follow the suggested standard outlined back in April 2003 here in RFC 3514. That involves an enhancment to IPv4 header.

The bit field is laid out as follows: 0 +-+ |E| +-+ Currently-assigned values are defined as follows: 0x0 If the bit is set to 0, the packet has no evil intent. Hosts, network elements, etc., SHOULD assume that the packet is harmless, and SHOULD NOT take any defensive measures. (We note that this part of the spec is already implemented by many common desktop operating systems.) 0x1 If the bit is set to 1, the packet has evil intent. Secure systems SHOULD try to defend themselves against such packets. Insecure systems MAY chose to crash, be penetrated, etc.

Really, when will people learn that appealing to a private intermediary to save you rarely works out in the long run?

While we are on the topic of evil. I’m getting link parasite attacks on my server’s log files. Presumably the idea is that by stuffing the list of refererer pages or the list of pages not found with the evil dude’s page names I might create back links to them, by mistake. In this case the lession once again is that if you let outsiders cross the wall around you site content without moderationation; some twit will abuse that. The answer to these puzzles is not to make the wall infinitely high. An even worse answer is to hand off responsiblity for the wall to a central authority.

We see this same pattern in the standards war between the telecos and the internet; i.e. between the garden wall smart network model of the telcos and the dumb network end-to-end model of the Internet. The business advantage of a the garden wall model is, of course, that you can deploy all kinds of discrimitory pricing on along the gates in the wall. (editor: Did you say “Gates”?)

So look: Telcos would like to create their on top level domain. To quote Martin Geddes: “Very, very evil. I’m impressed.” Some of my best friends are telco employees.

With today’s insight we can see that the telcos ought to have started by having Gartner rail at them for failing to create a top level domain of their own. Then sheepishly they could have gotten back to work repointing the bricks in their garden wall.

0 thoughts on “The Evil Bit

  1. Andy

    When I worked at Cisco and interviewed with their security division they asked me “is encryption, authentication or authorization” the most important. I answered encryption because you could lock the number of connections down to one and at least only one person was broken into your system. The interviewer said “no, authentication” its more important to know who you are. I thought “but if I just download the packet sniffer from the company software distro site or use linux then I can grab your password anyhow so how does that matter?”… I guess I can’t tell any other stories… 😉

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